By RICARDO CASTILLO
More than three weeks ago, on June 4, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) announced that he would not attend the June 29 and 30 gathering of the Group of 20 – G-20 top economies of the world.
“I’m making this announcement in advance now,” he said. “I am not going to the meeting of the Group of 20 (G-20), but I will send a letter to propose that the attendees discuss inequality problems in the world. My suggestion is to take address that inequality, which brings about migration, and violence. It is the crucial subject at hand to deal with In order to promote justice in the world. Enough of having an overview of issues without dealing deeply with them.”
At the same time, AMLO announced that he would send a representation headed by Foreign Relations Secretary (SRE) Marcelo Ebrard and Finance Secretary Carlos Urzúa, both present at the summit since Thursday, June 27, In Osaka, Japan.
The first photo of Ebrard at the Osaka summit was made public early Friday, Mexico time, and it is the one everyone would have expected to see of AMLO, not Ebrard. It was a photo of U.S. President Donald Trump and Ebrard shaking hands and smiling. Nevertheless, Ebrard is seen looking backwards. Perhaps AMLO was right to avoid being photographed shaking hands with The Donald.
The photo, released on Twitter by Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretariat, describes the smiling handshake as “a friendly encounter,” previous to the G-20 ceremonial proceedings. It added, “the relation of Mexico with our northern neighbor will arrive at a friendly port in this meeting.”
Ebrard, incidentally, went about shaking hands in AMLO’s representation with as many G-20 summit leaders as were available, including those of Singapore, Canada, Spain and, of course, host Japan.
About the only question remaining is how would Mexicans have reacted to that moment, apparently dreaded by AMLO, of their president meeting face-to-face with Mr. Trump? Actually, it will be interesting to see it when it actually happens, since many observers in Mexico feel that AMLO will suffer a major setback as former President Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN) did on Aug. 30, 2016, when the then-GOP candidate Trump visited him at the now-defunct presidential palace of Los Pinos. In political terms, everyone back then saw it as EPN “getting kissed by the devil,” and from then on, his fraying popularity nosedived until it dramatically crashed a year ago on July 1, when his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate José Antonio Meade got thrashed by AMLO, losing the election hands-down
It is not difficult to imagine that way deep down and beyond his political rhetoric of “Inequality,” AMLO could very well follow the same fate as his predecessor and see his over 60 percent popularity (most pollsters agree on this figure) wane if he’s seen next to Trump.
Needless to repeat it, Trump is not a favorite politician in Mexico, even if he is POTUS. His most recent “attack” on Mexico, the threat of slapping up to 25 percent in duties on Mexican exports, if the country did not stop the horrible Central American mass migration, didn’t win him many fans in Mexico. AMLO answered by complying, increasing by 25,000 the number of agents surveilling the Guatemalan and U.S. borders, effectively bringing down the number of northern-bound people seeking political asylum in the United States.
By the way, AMLO answered what everyone considered “yet another Trump aggression” not just by avoiding a tariffs war, but also wielding the familiar old hippie phrase of “peace and love.”
Many in Mexico, particularly AMLO’s political opponents, are having a heyday praising AMLO’s decision not to attend. Some say that “a boy from the tropics has nothing to do at a summit,” while others celebrate his absence “because he saves Mexico from a major embarrassment if he did attend.”
Instead, AMLO is staying at the National Palace, preparing his speech for next Monday, when he will throw a big fiesta at Mexico City’s main plaza, El Zócalo, with several popular musical groups performing. During the fiesta, he will deliver a speech in which he and his political party, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), will commemorate his rise to the presidency of Mexico on July 1, 2018, with an unquestionable landslide victory. He is also expected to review his achievements that day of his first seven months in power.